Jasmin Savoy Brown on “Stitchers”, Broadway, and Keeping Her Hair Natural

For actors that will be starting a recurring role on a beloved show, there’s a lot that goes through their minds. Will the fans like the character? Will the fans think they did a good job? As for actors whose character will cause a bit of trouble for a fan-favorite relationship, they think of those questions and more. Are they ready for the fan backlash?

When Jasmin Savoy Brown joined the Freeform show “Stitchers”, she was quickly made aware of how passionate the fans could get. The show focuses on a group of young adults working within the NSA on a top secret operation that ‘stitches’ into the brains of the dead to give the team clues on their life, how they died, or other important information. One of the most beloved relationships on the show is between Kirsten and Cameron, dubbed ‘Camsten’ amongst fans, and Jasmin’s character Nina sweeps in when the former two decide to stay friends for the time being.

“You know; it didn’t hit me how big the fan base was. I know it’s kind of obvious but it didn’t hit me until it was all happening,” she says of the reaction when she was cast. Following her premiere episode, Jasmin received a lot of mixed reviews on her character Nina, from praising her for being confident to being upset at the threat she has become in relation to Camsten becoming official. Unfortunately, some reactions involved hate which Jasmin was a good sport about. Laughing about some tweets and retweeting others, she was able to brush off the negativity.

“I think it’s awesome,” she says of the entire situation. “It’s really cool that these people are so invested and love these characters so much. I take it as a compliment that I’m getting all these comments, basically threatening me, you know. They love these characters; they love these people. If you come into this world, you better bring something to it. But at the same time, I’ve got people who don’t even know me who are being really kind and they’re standing up for me. [They’re] like, ‘Don’t be mean to this girl! She didn’t do anything!’ It’s just been positively overwhelming. People seem to be really invested and love their characters.”

Of course, coming up on the big day last week when her character was finally introduced allowed some nerves to settle in. “Right before the scene came up, I was [nervous] because as soon as I was cast, I was getting some joking but some kind of serious threats on Instagram. People were like, ‘You better not be destroying Camsten!’” Jasmin jokes that she thought, “Well, I’m about to be blacklisted from all of my fans!” She’s quick to laugh about it now. “But it was exciting. Once it actually started happening, it was exciting. And it’s all in good fun.”

When fans saw Nina outside of the comic book store where Cameron was browsing the stacks, it’s hard not to like her. The first impression fans receive of Nina is pure confidence – she knows who she is, she’s unashamed of what she likes, and she is plain awesome.

“I think everything about her is pretty straightforward,” Jasmin observes of her character. “She’s a love interest for Cameron. She’s super confident and nerdy and fun. And we all saw that little teaser,” she says, referencing the promo for the upcoming episode which shows some lip-locking between Nina and Cameron. Jasmin teases with a laugh, “Things are gonna get spicy!”

As for fans who already adore the character and want to see more of her, Jasmin is tight lipped. “You’ll have to tune in and find out,” she says in response to a fan’s question for Tumblr on if Nina has a bigger role. She’s also mum about any interactions with the rest of the ‘Stitchers’ team.

But fans can expect one thing for sure from Nina going forward on the show – lots of confidence. A major talking point amongst fans once Nina appeared was her natural hair and how much it meant to them. Keeping her natural hair is something extremely close to Jasmin’s heart. Seeing the comments, Jasmin says, “That meant the world to me.” She continued on to say:

“The natural hair is something really important to me since I started working professionally. I think we’re slowly seeing more women of color keep their natural hair but that’s more of a recent thing. And actually, it’s interesting [Teenplicity brings] that up because like I said, this is something that’s important to me and I promised myself for as long as I can, as long as it’s true to the role, I’ll keep my natural hair. Because I want little girls who look like me to watch TV and be like, ‘Oh! My hair is beautiful!’ When I was growing up, I didn’t really see that. And I had this audition for this really big show about a month ago to play the lead in this new show and I went in and got a callback. And they had said, and I quote, ‘We need you to come back looking as beautiful as possible so we need you to straighten your hair.’ It really threw me off. I had to talk to my mentors about it and my manager about it. It’s so inappropriate and not true but still the way that a lot of Hollywood thinks. In short, I did end up going in for that because my mentors – we had a talk and they basically said, ‘You have to play the game to change the game. What you do is you book a job like that and then you say, ‘Okay on these days, my character’s hair is straight for this reason.’’ It was a really interesting experience. I didn’t end up booking that. I’m glad about that. But to hear a bunch of people say that they really love the natural hair meant a lot to me because it is something that I’m constantly fighting for and going back and forth with on if I’m being dramatic wanting to keep it natural all the time. Thank you to everyone who said stuff, I appreciate that a lot.”

Another aspect of Nina that fans thoroughly enjoyed and related to was her deep interest in comic books. For Jasmin, playing Nina meant learning a lot to help satisfy her character and the fans watching. “I knew nothing about the comic book world but the way that I could relate to that obsessive culture and being a fangirl is my relationship to Broadway.” The excitement in her voice is so clear as she enthuses, “I love Broadway! I’m obsessed!”

Jasmin says of booking Nina, “It’s ironic because I was actually going to go to the first Broadway Con this year and then I missed it because I was shooting ‘Stitchers’. So it’s funny but I learned so much playing Nina because I have a rule for myself: I don’t say a line, I don’t say anything, if I don’t know what it means.”

To help her play Nina, Jasmin researched any references that popped up in the script, even watching an episode of “Doctor Who” and searching up “Torchwood”. “That’s fun because now I know a bunch of random facts,” she says of her studies for the role. “I’m really interested in that stuff and I would love to go to Comic Con with my friends just to check it out next year. It’s so cool and now I have more of a respect. I know there’s so much I don’t know, like I barely scratched the surface to the comic book world, but it was cool to learn stuff from the characters.”

While the other characters on the show are stitching into the minds of the dead, Jasmin can’t always decide who she would stitch into if given the opportunity and choice. Jasmin admits that she changes her mind constantly. “I feel like every day I’m going to have a different answer. I feel like today I would stitch into King Tut or someone in that time. I love that period of history and it seems like it’d be really interesting to see what life was like back then and see what’s going on in his head.”

Since it’s not possible to see into the heads of those passed, those on set while Jasmin was around were able to get an interesting insight into what probably goes on in her head most of the time.

“I love musicals, as you know, and Kyle [Harris, who plays Cameron Goodkin] went to school for musical theatre also. So I was like, ‘OKAY! We can sing Broadway musicals together!’ And at first he was on board and then I just wouldn’t stop and he was like, ‘Okay, calm down,” Jasmin recalls with lots of laughter. “So I finally forced him to sing ‘Love Is an Open Door’ from ‘Frozen’ with me and it was basically the best ever.”

However, video evidence of this cover is currently non-existent. Fans will have to pester Kyle for that. “That punk,” she refers to him affectionately, “was promising me we could video it together, post a little duet, and then it never happened! So he owes me – let it be on record Kyle Harris owes me a duet.”

Jasmin was able to breakout in famous Broadway numbers while shooting but if she had her pick of roles in one of the most popular shows on Broadway now (Did you guess ‘Hamilton the Musical’ yet?), she’s torn. “I go back and forth so many times – Eliza or Angelica,” she admits, narrowing it down to the two leading ladies of the musical. “Okay, see, because Eliza has ‘Burn’ which is extraordinary but Angelica has ‘Satisfied’ which is AMAZING. I haven’t actually seen ‘Hamilton’ yet but I’ve listened to the soundtrack and I can just visualize that song in my mind just by the lyrics and the music and it’s extraordinary.”

Gushing and letting her inner Broadway geek truly shine, Jasmin continues, “I LOVE Lin-Manuel Miranda. ‘Into the Heights’ is one of my favorite musicals of all time. I have EVERY SINGLE line memorized, from every character.”

Jasmin’s acting background, coincidentally, contains a lot of theatrical training which both helps her with television and films, but can also hurt her slightly. “Having theatrical training has helped me because I developed a very rigorous work ethic. I’m always prepared and I’m very good at taking line changes on the spot.” She admits that the differences in styles between theatre and television is what makes adjusting hard.

“On TV and film, it’s smaller, it’s more real to life. On stage, the acting is very big because you need to be seen in the back row. You know, that old lady who has glasses needs to see you and hear you so not necessarily real to life but stylized. I did theatre before I did TV and film so when I made the adjustment, it was actually very hard for me,” she says which led to her remembering a not so spectacular moment in her career.

“I remember in my very first [film] acting class up in Portland, I had this breakup scene. And it was like, the boy and girl are sitting at the table having dinner and he breaks up with her and she gets upset and leaves. I FREAKED out. I like stood up from my chair and pushed the table over. It was so dramatic and the scene was over. And my teacher goes, ‘That was the worst acting I’ve ever seen. Let’s try that again.’ That’s how it all started!” she finishes with a laugh.

Jasmin says that now she has a great love for both TV/film and theatre. “They’re so different and it’s important for me to constantly be doing both,” she explains. She admits that while Teenplicity was interviewing her, she was actually on her way to a rehearsal. “If I don’t – I just have to be flexing both muscles otherwise I’ll walk into one median uncomfortable. Like if I’ve only been doing TV and film for six months and I haven’t done a show on a stage, I’ll walk on stage and feel really small and my presence isn’t as big or I’m just doing theatre and go back to doing TV and film, I’ll be too big. But I have to constantly do both which is a good exercise for me.”

Fans will be able to see Jasmin outside of ‘Stitchers’ multiple times within the next year. “I just did an episode of ‘Comedy Bang! Bang!’ which was so much fun. I don’t actually know when that comes out. But it was super cool working with Scott Aukerman who is super nice and it’s a really funny skit.”

In Jasmin’s first leading role in the TV movie “Before You Say I Do”, she says the film is “So funny, it’s another nerdy comic book girl! I booked it right after I played Nina so it helped me there. And it’s a super fun movie about love.”

Starring in indie films like “Lane 1974” and “Newly Single”, Jasmin has a lot to be excited for, hoping for even more to come in the future.

For her fans that are going to be journeying through her adventures in Hollywood, Jasmin sends her thanks. “Thank you! Thank you for speaking out and sharing with me how much it meant to you guys that I kept my hair natural! And for interacting with me! I really love interacting with you guys! Keep it coming my way.”

Jasmin can be seen as recurring character Nina in “Stitchers” on Freeform every Tuesday night at 10/9c!

*Above photo credit to James DePietro

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